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Thread: Lab question

  1. Member soooowutnow's Avatar
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    #1

    Default Lab question

    Hey guys,

    I just want to say thanks to everyone for all of your help on here. This forum has really helped me in my cert paths so far.

    I have a question for the 290 exam. I want to set up a small lab in my apartment so that I can have some solid hands on experience. I don't really have a ton of room since I have a 1 bedroom apartment and my wife will flip out on my if I put any servers or switches in the living room.

    I was just wondering at a bare minimum what I might need in order to have a solid lab that will help me pass this, and future MCSA/MCSE tests.

    I have 3 legacy desktop machines (approx 5-10 yrs old), one newer desktop, one brand new laptop, 3 slightly outdated laptops, and a Mac mini that I can use. I also have 2 older cisco switches and a 2 4 port generic linksys wireless routers.

    I plan on putting a couple of the systems in my mom's basement as well to practice my VPN skills.

    What kind of set up do you guys recommend? I have the 180 day trial version of Server 2003 that I can put on any of the systems and I also have licensed copies of XP and Win 7 (System builder versions).

    Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
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  3. Senior Member Devilsbane's Avatar
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    #2
    For me, I used VMWare. It would be nice to have a physical lab, but I don't have that kind of space and it seems to be a waste of money. I bought VMWare (Student discount brought the cost down to like $113 or something). Still a lot of money, but a physical equivelent to what I have set up would easily be in the thousands. (Granted I spent more on my laptop knowing that I would be using it for this kind of thing, but it is still cheaper).

    The 180 day evals will work for what you need. I was lucky and was able to get my OS's from the MSDNAA program at my school so they never expire. I started building my lab for the 290 and just kept adding on as I went. I'm up to like 6 servers now and considering adding in SCCM and Exchange just for the heck of it. In the coming months I'll start building a new lab with 2008 being the backbone, I'll be using VMWare for that too, so it was a great investment.

    There is also free virtualization software out there. I've used a couple of them, and they work. They don't give you all of the features, but in a pinch they would get the job done.
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  4. Member soooowutnow's Avatar
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    #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Devilsbane View Post
    For me, I used VMWare. It would be nice to have a physical lab, but I don't have that kind of space and it seems to be a waste of money. I bought VMWare (Student discount brought the cost down to like $113 or something). Still a lot of money, but a physical equivelent to what I have set up would easily be in the thousands. (Granted I spent more on my laptop knowing that I would be using it for this kind of thing, but it is still cheaper).

    The 180 day evals will work for what you need. I was lucky and was able to get my OS's from the MSDNAA program at my school so they never expire. I started building my lab for the 290 and just kept adding on as I went. I'm up to like 6 servers now and considering adding in SCCM and Exchange just for the heck of it. In the coming months I'll start building a new lab with 2008 being the backbone, I'll be using VMWare for that too, so it was a great investment.

    There is also free virtualization software out there. I've used a couple of them, and they work. They don't give you all of the features, but in a pinch they would get the job done.
    Thanks for the quick reply. I am pretty clueless when it comes to VMWare. I tried running MAC OS Leopard on my Windows laptop and was never able to pull it off. Isn't all of those VM's a huge burden on system resources?

    My "best" laptop has the i5 processor and 4GB of 1066 DDR3 RAM. I can upgrade the RAM to 8GB, which might make some difference in a virtual environment, but I wouldn't know where to start. How do you make a virtual network link between your virtual domain controller, and say a virtual DNS server? Is there a resource out there that shows you how anywhere?
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  5. Senior Member Devilsbane's Avatar
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    #4
    The big thing you need is RAM. Processor isn't as important because the machines really aren't doing anything. DC's are only authenticating a couple test users, DNS is really only answering queries for a single user, ect. With Server 2003/XP I could easily get by with 512MB per VM. With 7/2008 this might need to be upgraded, but again since they are mostly sitting idle maybe you can short change them a little bit.

    My laptop is an i7 with 8GB of RAM. I'ved had 8 or 9 VM's running simultaneously with no major lags.

    To answer your other question, this is one thing I liked about VMWare. Most of my experience is between Windows Virtual PC (free) and VMWare. So maybe there is other stuff out there that works better. With Virtual PC, you get 3 network options. Bridged, NAT, and Local only. To my knowledge, there is no fine tuning possible. With VMWare, you are given 9 possible networks. Of this, 1 is bridged, 1 is NAT, and the others are local only. So for my setup, I installed 2 NIC's into Server1. 1 nic was on the NAT network and the other was on a local network (where I was able to define the subnet address and mask). I then installed RRAS to be my router. Worked pretty nifty
    Last edited by Devilsbane; 06-27-2011 at 06:48 PM.
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  6. Member soooowutnow's Avatar
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Devilsbane View Post
    The big thing you need is RAM. Processor isn't as important because the machines really aren't doing anything. DC's are only authenticating a couple test users, DNS is really only answering queries for a single user, ect. With Server 2003/XP I could easily get by with 512MB per VM. With 7/2008 this might need to be upgraded, but again since they are mostly sitting idle maybe you can short change them a little bit.

    My laptop is an i7 with 8GB of RAM. I'ved had 8 or 9 VM's running simultaneously with no major lags.

    To answer your other question, this is one thing I liked about VMWare. Most of my experience is between Windows Virtual PC (free) and VMWare. So maybe there is other stuff out there that works better. With Virtual PC, you get 3 network options. Bridged, NAT, and Local only. To my knowledge, there is no fine tuning possible. With VMWare, you are given 9 possible networks. Of this, 1 is bridged, 1 is NAT, and the others are local only. So for my setup, I installed 2 NIC's into Server1. 1 nic was on the NAT network and the other was on a local network (where I was able to define the subnet address and mask). I then installed RRAS to be my router. Worked pretty nifty
    That is awesome! Thanks so much. My wife thanks you too! LOL

    Time to upgrade the RAM on my laptop and go buy VMWare.
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  7. Senior Member MrAgent's Avatar
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    #6
    I have a server with Windows 2008 R2 running hyper v. I run all my VMs through it. Its an AMD quad core with 8 gigs of RAM.

    My company sent me a test machine with an Intel core i7 (6 core) with 24 gigs of RAM and one of our Fusion IO Duos. So Im going to install ESX on it and lab my next few exams on it.
    2016 Goals: GCIH, OSWP - DONE!
    My OSCP review http://www.jasonbernier.com/oscp-review/
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  8. VCDX in 2017 Essendon's Avatar
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by MrAgent View Post
    My company sent me a test machine with an Intel core i7 (6 core) with 24 gigs of RAM and one of our Fusion IO Duos. So Im going to install ESX on it and lab my next few exams on it.
    You are one lucky guy, I can tell you that!!
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